You knew that, eventually, I was going to write about this infamous YouTube video. By now, you’ve probably heard the story. Several years back, eight Florida high-schoolers—several of them members of their schools’ cheerleading squad—lured a friend (also a cheerleader) over to a house and then proceeded to pummel her for half an hour. The friends were evidently pissed about comments the girl had made on her MySpace page, and orchestrated this beat-down to be filmed and posted on YouTube.
Do I think the making of this video had anything to do with the fact that some people involved were cheerleaders? Not at all. But I do think the fact that they were cheerleaders ensured that the story would blow up. Here are a few sample headlines:
Notice the first word in each of these?
Not only did this incident spawn six clips that made it into YouTube’s most-viewed hall of fame (before the videos were taken down, of course). But since then, Fox News, CBS, MSNBC, CNN, the Today Show, the New York Times, etc, etc, etc have all covered the story.
This reminds of a couple of other incidents that got massive coverage in the past few years. Remember those two Carolina Panthers cheerleaders who got in a bar bathroom brawl after they got caught by fellow patrons making out in a stall? Yeah, that one got a lot of coverage, too. And who could forget the Fab Five, a group of cheerleaders who were terrorizing their Texas High School? They were a water-cooler topic for weeks.
Why are we all so taken with stories about cheerleaders gone wrong? Here’s my short answer: Cheerleaders are one of those high school archetypes that, like the jock or the geek, we for some reason relate to even decades after high school. In this taxonomy, cheerleaders stand for popularity, beauty, untouchability, even perfection. And, man, is it fun to see the mighty fall. America loves stories about good girls (or girls who are supposed to be good, anyway) gone wild. It’s all about corrupting the uncorruptable.
I could go on for hours, but I’m interested to hear what you think. I will leave you with this closing note, though. There’s one line that seems to be in every story I read about the YouTube beat-up video. While being arrested, one of the attackers evidently said, “Does this mean I’m going to miss cheerleading practice tomorrow?”
Read much more about CHEER! here.